Happy Holidays to nurses everywhere! This month I read about nurses all around the world who have to work during the holiday season. No matter what one's religious preference is, I have found this season to be one of joy and giving. The nurses I read about are not only doing their jobs but they are going the extra mile to make sure they are brightening someone's holiday. From the onslaught of twelve hour night shifts to the regular stressors of the holiday season, it's no wonder nurses can become over-worked and burnt out during what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year. We have an article from a nurse with her perspective of working on the holiday while I look at nurses working in various places around the world. Please submit your stories so we can share them with other fellow nurses.
It Is A Time For Family And Friends
It is a time for family and friends, for eating and drinking, for prayer and thanks-giving. Most businesses close during this long holiday to give their staff a well earned rest. However, for nurses and other medical staff, this is but a theory. Under normal circumstances, hospitals and clinics are open 24 hours a day. Sickness, accidents and medical crisis do not take a holiday.
In Botswana, nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system. The nurse plays a crucial role because there is an acute shortage of laboratory technicians and doctors, a situation, which forces the nurse to fill the void. In other words, the nurse is expected to do more than his or her job. When doctors are in too short a supply to attend accident victims on the scene, the nurse will accompany the ambulance driver to the scene and do what the doctor would normally have done. With more than 100 health posts in their country, it is clear that the nurse is directly involved with the majority of the people. The reality of the healthcare system in this country has necessitated the restructuring of the curriculum such that nursing students are taught some of the duties which should be performed by the doctor. While everybody will be celebrating Christmas, nurses in Botswana will be on duty. Being on duty while others are celebrating can give a sense of isolation. However, most nurses feel that it is inevitable that their work is predicated on some sort of sacrifice. Thabani Bhebhe and Joyce Balule, both nurses at Nyangabgwe Hospital in Francistown, say that sacrificing is part of nursing. They argue that it is the duty of a nurse just like any other worker to adjust to the work situation that he or she finds oneself in. Dumilano Kebohula, another Nyangabgwe Hospital nurse, agrees with her colleagues and adds that usually everyone knows in advance whether they will be on duty during the holidays or not. According to her, whoever is on duty should be positive for the patient's sake.
Nurses and other medical staff who care for little ones can make it a brighter time for the patient and family alike. During the holidays, the normal stresses of everyday hospitalization are going to be more illuminated says Kathryn Goodwin, a child life specialist for Children's Healthcare in Atlanta. Keeping the family involved with Christmas activities with their child is a priority says Goodwin. The Atlanta hospital frequently brings children together for craft activities while Christmas carolers roam the halls. Some traditions can be modified or brought to the hospital by the parents. Nurses can help parents determine how they can fix a child's favorite food while complying with a restricted diet. Arkansas Children's Hospital features nurses and doctors putting on a "12 days of Christmas" program for the patients. Santa also visits the hospital on Christmas Day, bringing stockings full of goodies.
While the holidays are a stressful time for patients and their families, it is also a difficult time for nurses who are working during the holidays. "Working in a hospital is stressful, period," says Paige Stephenson, RNC, a hospital retention nurse in Birmingham, Alabama. "Over the holidays, oftentimes it's more difficult. We try to take extra care of the nurses during that time period. It's emotional for them. I think they need extra TLC too because they end up giving so much the year". According to the organization Mental Health America (MHA), there are a number of factors that contribute to the holiday blues including financial woes, over-commercialization, stress and the inability to be with ones family and friends. The MHA recommends setting realistic goals and expectations for holidays and prioritizing your time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Fitting in time for exercise and eating healthy meals throughout the day are also essential to surviving the holiday season. Not only will you feel happier and healthier, but focusing on healthy habits will give you a head start on those New Year's resolutions.
REMEMBER THE CALLING
When I wake in the morning, I never know what God has in store for this ole' Nurse.
I read with a tearful heart and eyes the article submitted about remembering our calling as nurses. I have been nursing for 36 years, called by God when I was 4 years old. I just wanted to help heal not just the body but the soul. I got my dream and have loved my career desperately. In all of my nursing years, and by Gods Grace, I have never been reprimanded until I joined the fellowship of nurses where I currently am still employed. Of all things I thought of to be reprimanded for, I would have never dreamed of this one.
I was asked not to pray with my patients, instructed to leave this job to the chaplains, that is their job, she said. I could only thank my Heavenly Father for this reprimand, and gladly accepted it, but informed her that I would not now or ever stop praying with a patient or their families.
I work in a Cardiac stepdown unit, these folks are putting their very life into the able hands of our surgeons, yet they still ask for the support of the greatest physician of all. I informed my supervisor that she could write me up on a daily or hourly basis, and thanked her for it. To say that she was startled is an understatement,
I still hold hands and hearts, pray and share the love of God with all who need it and at the time that my Savior gives me the opportunity. He said I need you and I said where and this is how my career continues today. I am still the nurse that prays with her patients and yes, they also ask for me by name and the thrill of comforting has only gotten greater as time passes by.
Thanks for listening,
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